The Chicago Bulls’ offseason plans may be taking shape.
With limited funds, the Bulls are fortunate they don’t have too many decisions to make on free agents, though the ones they do have to make are critical. One of those questions is at point guard where, for the second offseason in a row, the Bulls have questions with Lonzo Ball shelved for the foreseeable future.
Guard Ayo Dosunmu opened last season as the starter and was working off the bench by the end of the season but could get another shot to prove himself.
“Dosunmu is a restricted free agent who has limited market value after a backsliding season,” wrote Sam Smith of Bulls.com on June 16. “But he’s well-liked by the coaching staff and management and expected to receive a reasonable contract for two or three seasons.”
The Bulls selected Dosunmu No. 38 overall with their only selection of the 2021 NBA Draft.
Dosunmu impressed as a rookie with his hardnosed defense, ability to get to the rim, and run an NBA offense – he averaged 3.3 assists to 1.4 turnovers with 8.8 points and 2.8 rebounds. He was also durable on a team that dealt with myriad injuries, leading the team with 77 appearances and starting 40 games mostly in place of Ball.
Ayo Dosunmu Working Toward Bounceback Season
This past season was a different story as Dosunmu averaged a similar 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists to 1.2 turnovers.
But his three-point efficiency fell with Dosunmu connecting on just 31.2% of his deep looks after knocking down 37.6% of his threes as his rookie. He shot 30.4% from outside as a starter and 33.3% when coming off the bench this past season.
He has also shared video clips of himself working on various shooting drills this offseason.
One anonymous executive told Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney the Bulls could wait it out with Dosunmu and White in restricted free agency.
“A lot of their situation depends on what happens with Nikola Vucevic and then Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White,” the exec told Heavy Sports. “Those (last) two guys are restricted, and maybe Chicago plays hardball with them.”
The cash-strapped Bulls have already begun contract talks with Vucevic and are said to be “all in” on bringing back White which would seemingly leave Dosunmu on the outside looking in; a drastic change to his stock from last offseason. But, if Smith’s speculation tracks, the Bulls could be looking at bringing all of the major contributors from this past season into next season.
Bulls Finances Come Into Focus
The Bulls are $39.7 million below the luxury tax line but deals for Vucevic – which NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson speculated could be worth $22 to $25 million annually would take them right past that.
Chicago has only paid the luxury tax once in franchise history.
That has long been viewed as the thing holding them back the most, though ESPN 1000’s David Kaplan reports that they are willing to go into the tax for the “right opportunity”.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has said for two years running that he will explore all options to improve the team over the offseason. It will be hard to do that and avoid the luxury tax so the Bulls’ bluff could be called either way.